Is Buying Art Synonymous with Art Collecting?

What exactly is art collecting and is it the same as buying art?

Many people think that acquiring and amassing pieces of art in general, automatically turns them into art collectors and their pieces -an art collection. Yet in actuality, an art collection needs to have some characteristics to qualify as one.

The foremost defining distinction of an art collection is the central theme. Pieces in a collection should be connected by a focal point, a common denominator or a binding concept. It is a premeditated decision based on an interest, passion and well thought-through research of that theme or concept or even a specific artist or genre.

While, in the beginning an art lover might buy pieces of art based on a whim or simply being pulled by the attraction to the piece without much research or consideration to an intended theme, however as the buyer develops his art intuition and knowledge, intentional purchases based on that intended focal point become the norm and the intention.

Art collecting is an art by itself, it takes continuous education and renewed knowledge on the subject matter, the artists, the genres, the art periods, etc. It takes immaculate research and deliberate acquisition of pieces that enhance that concept and fortify that collection, even if it takes time. That is what makes great art collectors great. Their impeccable approach and distinctive eye accompanied by that skill to combine those pieces into a comprehensive narrative even if they appear random to the untrained eye. At times it takes years looking for a particular piece that ties it all together and conceptualizes the central drift.

While central themes may vary between one collection or another, the common divisor is that they all tell a story. The story their collection tells gives it its value, sometimes more than the value of its individual pieces.

Art collectors may be interested in a certain social cause or a specific artist or a particular genre or school or even a certain art era. An art collection might center for example on post war women artists or 19th century French impressionism, etc. That defining underscore would determine how big or small the collection is.

New collectors have to ask themselves why they are attracted to a certain piece or genre of art or a specific artist. That in itself can delve into their preference and personality and teach them a bit about what their collection might center on. After which, research, an inquisitive interest and continuous exposure to the art world, can lead them to raise their acumen to make the right purchase.

Building a collection may be a lifelong pursuit and a comprehensive one can become in high demand by museums and art institutions whether the collector is looking to sell or exhibit or even give on loan. Museums are continuously looking to expand their own collections or keep altering their exhibitions for public view. Numerous collectors loan their collections to art institutions or foundations for public display especially if it becomes comprehensive or holistic enough in its genres or focal point which would spark public interest.

Helene Kröller-Müller one of The Netherland’s finest art collectors of the early twentieth century, collected contemporary and post-impressionist Dutch artists, and developed an appreciation for Van Gogh, collecting approximately 270 paintings and sketches, boasting the second largest collection of Van Gogh’s worldwide. There would be no Kröller-Müller museum if it were not for her collection.

Bizarrely enough, Much of the world’s masterpieces aren’t displayed at the biggest museums or public spaces. Instead, they reside in private art collections to be viewed by a select few. A well-researched and organized collection can have a significant addition to the art scene and can give exposure to those specific artists, pieces, genre or even art period which could nourish the art world and satiate the curiosity of the general viewing public.

Interestingly, on their quest, art collectors often seek art advisors and consultants to help them research, source, purchase and ultimately curate their art collection, thus eliminating redundancy and efficiently managing the entire cycle in the art ecosystem.